Christians under the umbrella body of Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) Sunday protested the rising insecurity across the country and called on President Muhammadu Buhari and the governors of the 36 states to stem the tide and bring perpetrators to justice.
Their call came as the Kaduna state police command Sunday arrested a suspected suicide bomber in Living Faith Church otherwise known as Winners’ Chapel in Sabon Tasha, Kaduna, Kaduna state.
And also in Kaduna, one of the five seminarians, whose name was given as Michael Nnadi, and a mother of two-Mrs. Philip Ataga were killed by their abductors.
Prayer and protests
And worried by the incessant security challenges, characterised by killings and abductions, Christian faithful in some parts of the country embarked on peaceful protest and prayer sessions to call governments’ attentions to the nation’s woes.
In Lagos, General Overseer Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG) Pastor Enoch Adeboye, Sunday led the massive protest tagged “prayer walk” against killings and insurgency.
The protest, although was tagged “prayer walk” was particularly against alleged constant killing of Christians in the North and other parts of the country.
The protest started at about 11 am shortly after the church service at RCCG’s National Headquarters Ebute Metta, Lagos state.
The dreaded Boko Haram had a few weeks ago beheaded the CAN chairman in Michika local government area of Adamawa state, Reverend Lawan Andimi and another young student of University of Maiduguri believed to be a Christian.
Speaking at the RCCG’s headquarters, Pastor Adeboye said he would be leading the church in a prayer walk to pray for an end to killings and insurgency in the country.
At the thanksgiving service Sunday, the cleric prayed thus: “Lord, have mercy in Nigeria. Let there be peace and security in Nigeria. God sees all things and knows where the terrorists are fighting, we pray that God send His light to Nigeria and expose the evildoers in the country.
“After the service, we are all going for a prayer walk. We would march to Atan Cemetery and back.”
He told RCCG members in a nationwide live telecast after the service to go for a prayer walk according to their age.
Some, he said, should march around the church because of their age and others should march with him to Atan Cemetery and back.
The prayer walk which was reported to have taken place in all the RCCG parishes nationwide provided opportunity to some Nigerians to express their dissatisfaction over the current insecurity in the country.
In some of the parishes Blueprint visited in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Abuja, parishioners were seen walking and praying quietly.
In Lokoja, the Kogi state chapter of CAN Sunday urged President Buhari to take decisive actions to save the lives of Nigerians being by senseless killings across the land.
The state Chairman of CAN, Dr John Ibenu, stated this at a press conference at Chapel of Freedom International, Lokoja, to mark the three-day prayer and fasting declared by the CAN National President Dr Samson Ayorinde.
The national body had declared Friday, January 31 to Sunday February 2, as days for special fasting and prayer for Nigeria in all churches, and to be rounded off by a prayer walk in form of procession by all Christians to be led by States’ CAN chairmen Sunday.
He said: “We call on the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to ‘Act Now’ to save lives. If he fails to act rightly and promptly, then posterity will judge him for standing with the enemy of the people. There must be no more sacred cows.
”Nobody is a singular custodian of ideas. When people are not performing the duties for which they are employed or appointed, they must give way for others to come in.
“In civilized societies, when people cannot perform, they voluntarily resign. Lives of citizens must matter and not political interest, patronage or sectional relationship.
”Kogi State CAN stands 100 per cent by all position of National CAN. The three-day prayer and fasting we have done for the nation is a Rescue Operation because even the government has acknowledged their helplessness.
”CAN is a most responsible organization that is saddled with the responsibility of taking care of the welfare of Christians and Nigerians at large.
”CAN stands with all governments for progressive partnership and will also hold any government accountable where there are lapses that affect people negatively especially Christians.
”CAN will not tolerate ineptitude and will not be silent because we must be the voice of the voiceless and downtrodden. We are the moral custodians and conscience of the society.”
Also, the Delta state chapter of CAN Sunday charged South-south governors to establish a security outfit that would secure the region.
The state Chairman of the body, Apostle Sylvanus Okorote said the regional security network would reduce, if not completely eliminate rampant cases of killings, kidnappings and armed robberies in the region.
The CAN chairman said this during a prayer walk in Asaba, in protest against alleged killings of Christians across the country.
Apostle Okorote also appealed to the various Houses of Assembly and other political leaders within the region to return to the drawing board and produce the security architecture like Amotekun in the South-west.
Wielding placards of various inscriptions such as ‘Give peace a chance’, ‘Say no to kidnapping of Christians’, ‘O God arise, let your enemies be scattered’, among others, Christians of different denominations marched from the Stephen Keshi Stadium to the Oshimili Arcade where the CAN leader addressed faithful.
“Our brothers in the South-west went to the drawing board and came up with Amotekunto stop these killings in that region. They tried to stop it but the President said he has not ordered anybody to stop Amotekun. So Amotekun has come to stay.
“Our governors and legislators in the South-south region should also go back to the drawing board and come up with our own unique security architecture to curb these killings.
“I know the people committing this havoc cannot dare the South-east, they cannot even step into Anambra state, but if they come to the South-south and there is nothing to repel them, the place will be a fertile ground for them to perpetrate their criminal tendencies.
“Therefore, there should be security architecture in the South-south. Since Amotekun has sailed through, others will follow,” the CAN chairman said amidst cheers from the congregation.
Similarly, the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reported that Christians in Okitipupa local government area of Ondo state Sunday staged a peaceful protest against security breaches and incessant killings in the country.
The Christians, in their large numbers at the RCCG Holiness Cathedral Ondo Province Five, sang solidarity songs.
They also carried placards with various inscriptions, such as “We say No to terrorism”, “Stop the killings of Christians”, “Every soul matters to God”, “Shed no more blood, it cries to God”, “God hurts when His creatures hurt”, and “All souls are precious to God”.
They urged President Buhari to rise up to the security breaches, describing him as the president of all Nigerians.
They said Nigeria was not a country of one religion but a country that belongs to Christians, Muslims, people of other faiths and, indeed, all the indigenes residing in the country.
They also said the blood-letting in the country was much, demanding that the killings must stop.
Addressing the gathering RCCG Provincial Pastor Pastor Johnson Umoren said the protest was aimed at passing a message to the leadership of the country that Christians could no longer bear the incessant killings.
“The killings are getting too much, especially killing of Christians in the Northern part of the country. We say no to shedding of innocent blood; this protest is to send a message to President Buhari and the international community that the blood shedding must stop,” he said.
One of the protesters, who represented the women, Mrs. Flora Amehim, also said that the killings and raping of women must stop.
“This country belongs to all of us and we must live together in love and unity; we can no longer tolerate the killings and raping of women; this must stop now,” she said.
Mr. Dayo Oyekan, a youth leader, also said the youths were tired of being wiped out by the terrorists through incessant killings.
“We are being pushed to the wall gradually with all these killings; we want the killings to stop so that the government does not invoke the wrath of the youth,” he said.
Also, NAN reported some CAN members in Ekiti state joined the peaceful protest, tagged, “Stop Killing of Christians in Nigeria”, the demonstrators, in their hundreds, marched through major streets of the ancient city, singing songs and expressing grievances, through placards with various inscriptions.
The procession, which began at about 3p.m. took off from the Ori-Apata state secretariat of CAN, located at Adebayo Area and terminated at the popular Adekunle Fajuyi Park in Ado-Ekiti.
The peaceful protest was closely monitored by men of the Nigeria Police as well as officials of the Federal Road Safety Corps among other paramilitary officers in the state.
The protesting Christian body comprised of different denomination worshipers, who carried placards with different inscriptions such as “Stop killings” “We must unite against killings in Nigeria” Christian demands justice “It is inhuman to take life” “Citizens must be protected from killers” “We Christian are the main victims”, among others.
Addressing the protesters, the state CAN Chairman, Rev. Fr. Peter Olowolafe lamented the current security situations in the country and described it as unbearable.
He explained that Christians in the area had decided to join others in the country to embark on the peaceful protest to show their grievances over the unabated killings in the country.
Olowolafe, who is a Catholic priest, cited several killings in the country in recent times, to include the murder of about nine church leaders and several Christians within the last one month.
Suspected suicide bomber
As the protests were on in various parts of the country, the police in Kaduna arrested a suspected suicide bomber planning to detonate the bomb in Winners Church in Kaduna.
A source within the church said the suspect identified as Amir Samuel, was found in the church’s toilet.
He was attempting to detonate the bomb when security agents deployed to the church got a clue and instantly apprehended him.
But for the police intervention, Samuel would have been lynched by the angry worshippers.
Confirming the development, the command’s spokesman, DSP Sabo Yakubu told Blueprint Sunday night that the suspected bomber had been arrested and currently undergoing police interrogation.
“A man, Amir Samuel was arrested today (Sunday) for planting a device suspected to be IED at a Living Faith Church, Sabon Tasha. He was arrested before the suspected explosive could go off.
“He has been arrested by the police and he is currently undergoing interrogation. We would soon come up with updates on the situation,” the police spokesman said.
Seminarian, woman killed
In a related development, one of the four Catholic seminarians abducted by gunmen early January in Kaduna had been reportedly killed.
The 18-year-old seminarian identified as Michael Nnaji was killed Saturday, while the other three were released by their abductors.
While one was set free a fortnight ago, the other two regained their freedom penultimate Friday.
Those who regained their freedom were Kanwai Pius, Stephen Amos John Paul, Umeanuka Peter. They are students of Philosophy at the Good Shepherd Major Seminary.
A Catholic priest in one of the parishes in Kaduna urged the congregation Sunday shortly after the homily to pray for the released seminarians.
He said: “Though three of them have been released, unfortunately, one has been killed. His name is Michael Nnaji. He was killed yesterday despite a huge amount of money paid to them as ransom.
“This is the type of country we find ourselves, especially Kaduna state. There is no security; people are being kidnapped on a daily basis. Kaduna has become the worst state in Nigeria in terms of insecurity.
“I urge every one of us to continue to pray for God’s protection over our lives and country,” the priest said.
The student seminarians of the Catholic Good Shepherd Major Seminary, located along Kaduna-Abuja highway, Kakau area, in Chikun local government area of Kaduna state, were abducted by heavily gunmen suspected to be kidnappers after gaining access to the school premises.
Similarly, a mother of two identified as Mrs. Philip Ataga was also reportedly killed by her abductors.
The deceased was the wife of a Kaduna-based medical doctor Philip Ataga.
Her body, according to Catholic News Agency, was found alongside that of Nnadi at different times and places.
While Nnadi was reportedly kidnapped in the night of January 8 in the seminary, Mrs. Ataga and her two children were kidnapped on January 24 by armed men at the family’s residence at Juji, in Chikun LGA of the state.
It was gathered that her captors killed her after her family failed to meet their demand of a N150 million ransom for the deceased and two of her children who were also abducted.
The two kids were as at the time of this report, still with the kidnappers.
“The bandits killed Mrs. Ataga, dumped her corpse and called her husband and directed him to pick the corpse at a particular location’, the Cable reported earlier Saturday.
Her corpse was picked and deposited at the mortuary at the Barau Dikko Specialist Hospital, Kaduna. After killing her, the bandits are still reportedly making a demand of N20 million ransom for the release of the children.